The Cato Street Conspiracy Unravels

The conspirators who planned to assassinate the Prime Minister and his Cabinet were arrested on 23 February 1820.

A May Day Garland for 1820. Wiki Commons.

Arthur Thistlewood was a known firebrand at the time he formed his conspiracy to assassinate the entire Cabinet, including Prime Minister Lord Liverpool, at a dinner.

Inspired by radical thinker Thomas Spence and angered by the Peterloo Massacre and the subsequent passing of the ‘Six Acts’, he was the leader of the ‘Spencean Philanthropists’. His intention was to burst into the dinner and kill those present with pistols and grenades. He would then form a ‘Committee of Public Safety’ to oversee a revolution leading to the return of land to public ownership, the abolition of the aristocracy and the introduction of universal suffrage – to include women.

Unbeknown to Thistlewood, however, his plan was fundamentally compromised: his second in command was a police informer and the putative dinner was in fact a fiction created to tempt their group to action.

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